Our High Line pouches have been fan-favorites for years; the durability and versatility make them easy to love. As we launch the fourth size in the High Line series, we decided it was time to speak with our director of product development, Matt Shurtleff, to get the backstory.
What was the motivation for creating the High Line series?
We were working on a similar product for a custom order and we had never done zippers before. I was interested in figuring out how to sew zippers into leather so I made a prototype and we decided we should make a product.
How did you decide on the sizes? Was the original plan always to have multiple sizes?
The original size was the High Line 1. Its original purpose was to hold pencils, pens, or other small items. At trade shows, I used to like to tell people it was for a sleeve of Oreos. It was popular but limited in use so we naturally progressed to larger sizes. We stopped at the 3 until Andrew (our industrial designer) came along and showed us the benefits of what has now become the High Line Max. It is a true travel dopp/makeup bag.
How did these pouches get their name?
Long story 😊. I read a children’s book called The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. It is about a boy that lives in a dreary city and finds an abandoned elevated train track that winds through the city. He starts watering little plants and trees that have found their way into the track and slowly the space is transformed into a beautiful garden and it ends up spreading to the rest of the city and makes everything better. At the back of the book, the author writes that he had based it on an actual abandoned railroad in NYC called the High Line. I immediately knew I needed to visit it so, the next time I was in NY for a trade show, I went and checked it out. A committee of some sort has renovated and beautified it and turned it into a pedestrian path. It is really cool. SO, the zipper on our pouch reminded me of a railroad track and we named it the High Line.
Photo Credit: scenariojournal.com
How do the High Lines set themselves apart from other similar pouches?
I would say being made in the USA is big. But also the simple construction out of 5 oz. leather. The design isn’t new but the materials are. There are plenty of similar pouches out there made of fabric or other lightweight materials.
What aspects of the design process did you enjoy?
Figuring out the zippers for sure. Also, this was the first product I had worked on that contained an enclosed volume (see next question).
Were there any challenges during the design process?
An enclosed volume requires you to think inside out. You basically have to treat it like fabric with seam allowances which is something the rest of our products did not have. You have to sew it inside out and then turn it which is difficult with 3mm leather. Figuring out the pattern was a challenge but very satisfying.
Have there been any changes to the design over the years?
Some of the dimensions on the 2 and 3 have been snugged up a bit but I am pretty sure the 1 is the same as when we started. We have made versions of it in metallic gold, copper, and silver leather, as well as neon. I also made a washable paper version that I use for my drawing pencils.
What prompted you to create the High Line Max?
The credit for that all goes to Andrew. He recognized a need for a bag that could hold all of his wife’s makeup and toiletries. The 3 wasn’t quite big enough and a single zipper didn’t allow for the bag to open up wide enough for easy access. The double zipper with the single pull is reminiscent of certain duffle bag styles on the market but in a smaller package.
What features of the High Line Max are you anxious to get feedback on?
My educated guess is that it is a bit big for most men, but maybe I am just low maintenance. The High Line is plenty big for my needs but I would like to know how more men view it. I would also like to hear feedback on ease of use.
So much thought and work goes into the design process for each item in the Rustico collection. A big thanks to Matt for telling us the story behind the High Line series.